Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Clean Your Bike

Whether you’re riding on the road or hitting the trails, your bike gets dirty fast. These simple steps will help you keep your steed functioning and looking sharp!

First, give your bike a gentle shower with a garden hose. This will loosen up any dirt that’s stuck to the frame and prevent it from scratching the paint when you wash. Stay away from pressure washers—the water will force itself into your bearings and cause them to seize and rust. Spray gently, and brush away loose dirt.
Next, dip your sponge into a bucket of soapy water (dish soap works just fine, but other degreasing cleaners can be less work). Squeeze the suds all over the frame, sponging gently. Pay special attention to places you might normally miss—under the down tube, on the inside of the fork legs, and on the brake pads. Once the frame is clean, go for the drivetrain. You’ll want to use a different sponge than the one you use for your frame—your chain and cassette collect tons of dirt, and you don’t want to rub that on your frame. Grab the chain with a sponge or rag and pedal backwards. The degreaser will come in handy at this point. Floss between your cassette cogs with the side of a rag. Strip all the old, dirty grease off the drivetrain—you’ll put new stuff on soon.

Scrub your rims well with something slightly abrasive—a scrubber sponge or some Orange GoJo work really well. Be sure to rinse all the abrasive off well.

Once your bike has been soaped and degreased, spray it down with clean water to rinse. Dry the frame and drivetrain off. You can get a lot of water off by lifting one wheel off the ground a few inches and letting it drop to the floor (it won’t damage the bike).

Now that your bike is squeaky clean, you need to relube. Drip lubricant on the chain as you pedal backwards. Let it sit a few minutes, and wipe it off completely. Grab the chain with a rag again and pedal backwards. You cannot wipe off too much of the lube. You want the lube to grease the inner workings of the chain, and not hang around on the outside to collect dirt.

Once you’re done, finish up with some frame polish for maximum shine. Your bike is ready for the trail or the road again!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to Test a Bike:

Buying a new bike can be an overwhelming experience. Here at Sickler’s, we want to make it as easy for you as possible! These tips will help you get the most out of your test rides.

Choose the right time. Generally, weekday mornings are the quietest time in our shops. That means that you will likely have the parking lot to yourself to test bikes to your heart’s content. Saturdays are our busiest time. We are happy to serve you then, but keep in mind that you might be waiting slightly longer if there are several other people who arrive there before you.

Wear appropriate clothing. If you’re coming straight from the office, pack a change of clothes. High heels and a pencil skirt make test riding anything a real challenge. Go for shorts and sneakers. Avoid long, loose fitting pants that may get caught in the bike’s chain.

Take your time. Ride the bike around the parking lot. As you do so, test out the shifters and brakes. See how quickly the bike responds to increases in speed. Lift the bike to feel its weight. Turn sharply and gradually. Think about how your arms, hands, back, and neck feel. We are happy to let you ride a bike in the parking lot as long as you’d like to ensure that you get the best test possible! This is the best way to compare sizes and models too.

Ask questions. We will explain to you the noteworthy features of the bikes you test. But please—stop us if you have any questions or if something is unclear. We strive to make your bike test a positive experience for you, and that means understanding everything that comes with the bike.

Get our advice. The shop employee that is helping you will be happy to offer an assessment of your fit on a particular bike. Be open minded—if he or she suggests a different size or type of frame, give it a try. You never know what you might like!